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by Sofia S. 09 Aug, 2017

Today, 9th of August 2017, marks ten years since the beginning of the financial crisis which had devastating effects in the life of thousands and thousands of people around the world and filled the pockets (even more) of a few privileged people.

Back in 2007 I was about to become a freshman at University as classes were about to start in a few weeks’ time. I was 23 years old, determined to give my absolute best, focused and motivated.

I went to University a bit later than most people do but life happened that way for me and that’s fine. What matters is that despite all the adversity, I went and I graduated.

In July 2007 I was partying hard in Ibiza with three of my friends and we had the best time together. Memories I will cherish forever. 

However, I don’t recall having heard anything about a financial crisis, all I knew was something about a Wall Street crash back in 1920-something and obviously, that subject was completely outside of my radar. Investments? Banks? Nah. Not a subject for me. It wasn't until Lehman Brothers collapsed that I remember the general panic and that things really started to look bad. Or maybe I was just not paying attention before.

I completed High School with a Diploma in Pottery and Ceramics. At University, studied Marketing, Advertising and PR because at 23 years old I finally decided I wanted to be a copywriter.

I wanted to be the person that writes ads and creates content; I wanted to surrender myself to my artistic vein, to allow for my creativity to fully blossom and develop. I had come to the conclusion that my path was an artistic one and it was time to embrace my future. I had it all figured out. Even when I got pregnant with my daughter during the second semester at Uni, I carried on.

I took a gap year (school year of 2008/2009) because birth was scheduled for December so I couldn’t attend the January exams relating to courses beginning in September. It was the wise thing to do.

When I returned to Uni for my second year (2009/2010) my motivation was stronger than ever. I now had the cutest tiny little human who would be looking up to me and to everything I’d do, she depended on me and it was my duty to ensure all her needs were taken care of. I started to do everything with her in mind and solely having her best interests at heart. And that’s when things changed.

Things were not good at home and that’s as far as I will go in relation to exposing that part of my life. The only thing I’ll say is this: the worst things got, the stronger my motivation to succeed would get.

As part of my course, I needed to attend a Business class. It was only one semester but that Professor gave us two separate classes so in some ways they were linked. For the sake of simplicity, let’s say I had two business classes the same semester.

A few lessons into the class and I felt like I had seen God. What on Earth had I been doing studying arts all my life because that was so not the right path for me.

I landed a job at a Bank shortly after that and from there on, I became determined to learn as much as I could on my own because switching courses to Business or Economics was not an option. I didn’t had the funds and didn’t want to feel like I’ve wasted two years of my life. Especially when I had to take into consideration that I went to Uni later than usual.

I did countless online courses on platforms like Coursera and some of them were so daunting and full of jargon – not to mention the fact they were all in English – so I actually had to repeat a few of them until I could grasp what they were on about.

I started reading the Financial Times so I could understand what was happening in the financial world. I took advantage of a few colleagues that were much more knowledgeable than me to ask questions and learn from them. I became an avid reader of a Portuguese Business newspaper and slowly things started to fall into place and words I had no idea what they meant before, I now recognized and understand them.

I did all of this while looking after a new born, whilst working and whilst attending University. Talk about will power. Looking back, I have no idea where I got the strength from but I did it nonetheless.

I have been working in this industry for nearly 10 years now. I have seen people come and people go. I am blessed to be able to work in an industry that I genuinely love. There is not a single day that goes like the previous one. Everything changes at an incredible pace and if you stop, you become obsolete.

Ten years on since the beginning of the financial crisis, have we learned anything?

I hope so. I see firms committed to give the example from the top; there is more regulation; there is more awareness.

Do I believe that it will happen again? Unfortunately yes but maybe not as the ones we’ve seen before. The financial services industry business is the money business and the goal is to make even more money using someone else’s money. It’s called an “investment” and it can go right or wrong. You risk what you can afford to lose.

The problem with that statement is that the majority of people that cannot afford to lose are usually the ones that end up losing everything even though they have never placed a penny in an investment.

It starts with a family member losing its job. Then, one bill gets left behind, then another and by the time you realise you’re receiving a letter from the Bank saying you’re facing your home is being repossessed.

It’s scary to witness how the financial crisis has long been forgotten by the industry and yet it’s the complete opposite for consumers. People  that ten years on, on a daily basis still worry about a new potential crash and what effect will it have – again – on their families and how will they cope.

It’s a cruel business the money business so I guess it’s totally legitimate for people to ask me why am I in it? How can I associate myself with such practices? The answer is simple. I genuinely believe I can make a difference. No matter how small. I believe in fairness and in righteousness. I believe in doing the right thing so I don’t mind being associated with such industry because if more of us believe in the same thing as me, maybe one day, thinking about a financial crisis where people are left to starve and homeless for no fault of their own will sound surreal and impossible.  

Thankfully, I know I'm not alone in this. I have met so many great people, so many professionals that are a tribute to this industry and profession.

I act in a way I know I will never have to bow my head in shame and in a way that it won’t disappoint my family and have their values judged by others due to my actions. I will never act in a way that will make Diana ashamed of being my daughter. I will always do what my heart tells me is the right thing to do. 

One can dream and, so far, all my dreams have come true.

Like I said. Motivation.

 

by Sofia S. 03 Jul, 2017

As most of you are probably aware, I work in a Pensions and Asset Management firm and have a role in the Compliance Department.

Sometimes is hard for me to explain to people what Compliance is (most of the time they confuse it with Complaints) so I just tend to say that I work in the Legal and Regulatory Department of the firm as it’s easier for people to have an idea and understand better my line of work.

To clarify this a little bit better, Compliance basically is the Department in charge of analysing the regulatory requirements for the industry, keep up with any changes (trust me, there’s a lot aaaallll the time!) and ultimately ensure those are effectively implemented internally and that every department is compliant with said imposed regulations.

Sounds boring? It actually isn’t – well, not for me anyway. I get bored very easily, my attention span is very reduced if I’m not doing something interesting or that captivates me and I believe that’s the reason why the financial services industry is a perfect fit for me because every day is different. There is always something changing, there is always something new, there is always a new challenge. Additionally, you are only told about the outcome not the process in which you have to do this so this allows me to use my creativity. It's the cherry on top for me.

The challenge I came across this morning was an article by the National Audit Office (I receive their newsletters) in relation to Online Fraud and the first paragraph was “Fraud is the most commonly experienced crime in England and Wales and most happens online.”

This got me thinking that scams are everywhere and it is true that the amount of people that can’t identify an online fraud is alarmingly high and it's worryingly above what should be classed as acceptable.

In 2016, up to 30th September, there was an estimated 1.9 MILLION “cyber-related” fraud incidents. 623 THOUSAND were actual fraud incidents recorded and this carries and estimated loss to individuals of £10 BILLION.

So how can you keep yourself safe?

Do you use the internet? Here’s a few things you can do to keep you safe:

 1.    Make sure you have an active firewall and anti-virus and that these are updated and monitored frequently.

 2.    If you use online banking, DON’T GOOGLE YOUR BANK, instead write the website address on the top bar completely. Banks update their systems every day for security reasons, by accessing via Google you could potentially be accessing a website with previous security settings.

 3.    If you shop online (like most of us do) and you spot a nice dress on a sponsored ad on Facebook by a firm you've never heard of before and it re-directs you to a website with a ton of cute dresses and shoes and it’s like heaven on earth, make a google search of the firm before you purchase anything. Check for the security lock on the left top side of the page which will guarantee you that the website has encryption and your debit/credit card details are safe. It's a light green padlock icon and says "Secure" just before the website address.

 4.    DON’T TAKE COLD CALLS. Cold calls (or unsolicited calls) from financial services firms are mostly banned and not allowed UNLESS you already have a business relationship with that firm. There are some additional rules surrounding these but bottom line is, if someone calls you to sell you something, to speak to you about investing money, or saying you were missold PPI or they know you have been in an accident, the safest thing to do is hung up .

 5.    PROTECT YOUR ELDERLY FAMILY MEMBERS. There is a gigantic number relating to Pension fraud and I have seen first-hand people losing all their money in pension transfer scams.

 6.    The Financial Conduct Authority – regulator of the financial services in the UK – has several tools available for consumers to use and abuse.  http://scamsmart.fca.org.uk/ has a lot of relevant information available. Here you can learn the warning signs for investment scams. If you’re looking to invest money, find were you can get impartial advice. Additionally, you can also check the FCA warning list that details the name of firms known to defraud people.

 7.    USE THE SCAMSMART. If it’s difficult for you to use this facility, contact your Bank/Building Society or contact the FCA consumer helpline on the number 0800 111 6768 (freephone) or  0300 500 8082 from the UK, or + 44 207 066 1000 from abroad. The line is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm and Saturday 9am to 1pm.

 8.    DON’T RUSH INTO ANY FINANCIAL DECISIONS OVER THE PHONE. Scammers tend to use pressure in order to make you rush into a decision without having the time to rationalize over it. Don’t fall for it. 

 9.    If you receive a phone call saying it’s from your bank and they give you the number of the branch for you to contact back in case you want to double check the veracity of the call, don’t use that number. Use the number YOU HAVE for your bank. Usually scammers are on the other side of the line waiting for your call.

 10.ASK HELP/ADVICE. There is no shame in asking for help if you’re unsure about something, especially when it comes to your hard working earned money.

 11.THINK SMART. IF SOMETHING SOUNDS TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, IT USUALLY IS.

~ ~ ~

Apple/iTunes SCAM:

A recent scam that has been making people to be a victim of fraud comes via e-mail. People receive what appears to be an invoice of music recently purchased on the iTunes store.

Below it says “To cancel your purchase within 14 days of receiving this invoice, go to  Cancel andx Manage Subscriptions ”(yes, it even comes with a spelling error).

Bottom line is: no one will detect a spelling mistake as all they’re worries about it “I have been a victim of fraud”. So the first thing they do is to click on the link where the bank details are requested to confirm where to send the monies too. Once you put those details in, instead of seeing a refund on your account, you’re likely to see your account being drained.

Here’s a print screen of an e-mail I personally received last year. I know the same scam is still going strong as one of my colleagues received the same one last week which can only mean that a lot of people fall for it.

by Sofia S. 14 Jun, 2017

The first time I heard the expression “Teenage Angst” was in the lyrics of a song entitled exactly that by a band I used to love called Placebo.

I was a huge fan not just the band but also Brian Molko, the lead singer. Saw them perform live three times and every time was absolutely brilliant. After a few more albums got released, I slowly started to lose interest as all the musicality sounded exactly the same and therefore they failed to captivate my attention towards their new work. I still listen to their music every now and again but definitely not on repeat as I did back then.

I was a very depressive teenager now that I look back on life. Everything around me pushed me down into a depressive spiral and the music I listened was a reflection of how I felt.

Music actually helped me to get rid of some ghosts that haunted me. I would listen to the most self-destructive lyrics, to the most depressing song so I could cry and cry and cry. I would on purpose try to hit rock bottom as fast as I could because all I could think was “if I hit rock bottom, then there’s only one other route and that’s up. It won’t get any worse.”

Not everyone is the same. We all have different coping mechanisms, we all feel things differently, what might affect me emotionally may not affect you. I am a little flower on the inside, I have to admit. I may appear tough but I do cry easily and, psychologically, things affect me very easily.

When I was growing up my Mum wouldn’t allow me to watch certain things on TV because I was visually easily impressionable. Even now, I remain the same. I can’t watch certain things on TV or watch certain movies because I know they will mess me up; I will have nightmares and become depressed over things I have no power or control over. Even though I know it’s just fiction.

I was a depressed teenager even though I had a million friends around me. I felt really sad and I didn’t knew how not to feel that way and was jealous of the other kids who were always happy with life, with their perfect families and without a care in the world.

I don’t think being a teenager is ever easy and being a teenager these days is probably even harder than what it was for me back then.
Your whole life can be recorded on a mobile phone and all it takes is one bad photo, one wrong quote or one stupid decision to absolutely break you. It is a lot of pressure. 

I could get away with doing stupid shit because my parents wouldn’t find out unless I got arrested. Me and my friends were close and tight with one another so we’d always have each other’s backs. We didn’t had computers and mobile phones didn’t even existed. We knew that at 9pm we’d met at the park and by 9:20 who wasn’t there would probably not be showing up that night so we’d make a move.

Despite doing stupid shit, I would almost all the time tell my Mum what I was doing and who was I with. I was nice like that but I also depressed and angry. And that last part I would always keep to myself. My escape was music and writing. It has always been so much easier for me to put feelings into words, explain my thoughts by writing them rather than speaking. Maybe that’s why today I prefer to text rather than call. Not a lot of people would knew how I feel because I didn't (and still don’t) like to talk about feelings and I’ve always been good at hiding what I feel. Until it reached a point where I couldn’t hide it anymore.

Anyway, 13 reasons why. I had no idea what to expect from this show. People were talking about it and to me just seemed another kids series and my boyfriend refused to watch that with me saying it was too juvenile. Let me tell you it was not what I was expecting at all.

I am no longer Hannah Baker. I am now Mrs Baker, Hannah’s Mum (but way younger). I grew up. 

I learned that my teenage years were of angst, yes; of depression; of loneliness; of confusion; of making stupid decisions; of uncertainty. It was also the time of my life when I made friends for life; that I feel in love for the first time; that I experienced young, crazy, reckless, love and passion. When I experienced a lot of things for the first time which helped me decide not what I wanted for my life but most certainly what I did not want. It was a learning curve and we all need to go through that to be able to transition to the next bit.

I don’t usually talk to the TV but that last episode, I was on my sofa in my living room and I was crying and saying to her “No Hannah, don’t do it! It’s not worth it! It will get better, I promise! Hannah, don’t!”

I felt so connected to her that for a period of time it was like I was in that bathroom with her. In that tub and felt like the water was cold. I closed my eyes when she cut herself and I reached out my hands to the TV and screamed “DON’T!”
I know that's stupid, after all it is a TV show and I knew she was dead already but still… I couldn’t help it. I just wanted to reach out to her, give her a cuddle and tell her everything would be alright.

When her Mum walked in on her, my heart sunk. I was sobbing. My heart went out to that Mother as if it was my own child there. She couldn’t change the outcome of her little girl’s decision. I can imagine the amount of questions going through her mind. Why would she do that? And she was left with so many questions left unanswered for so long.

I grew up and I am a now a happy adult. Teenage years are hard because a lot is happening with us and we don’t fully understand it. The fact that when a teenager becomes an adult and forgets about how it felt doesn’t help to the cause. It creates division and misunderstanding between two generations. Between parents and their children.

Let me tell you a secret: the same way as you don’t know how to teenage, we don’t know how to adult. Fact.

Life doesn’t come with an instruction book and just because we’re older doesn’t mean we know everything. Unless you’re a grandparent. Grandparents always know everything and always have the best advice.

If you are feeling depressed, sad and thinking about hurting yourself, don’t. I PROMISE it will get better! It may not feel like it now but it will.

Reach out to a friend; a family member; a teacher; a priest/vicar or any other type of faith leader. A stranger! I once spoke with a stranger in a park in Lisbon. Best conversation I ever had and told him things I never told anyone. Never saw him again and was great. That chat helped me to take some things off my chest. A GP can offer you treatment and no you are not crazy for having treatment but some people can explain to you why you are feeling the way you are feeling because they understand people and the human brain. Sometimes, talk to someone helps.

You can reach out to me if you want to. I will do my best to help you. Sometimes all you need is to take things off your chest, have a little cry, lick your wounds and get yourself back up again. If you can’t run, walk and if you can’t walk crawl. But don’t give up.

Hannah may have had 13 reasons to do what she did but I can promise you I can come up with 1300 reasons of why life is worth living.  

 

  Helplines and support groups

I know it can be difficult to pick up the phone, but reach out to somebody and let them know how you are feeling.

  • Samaritans  (116 123) operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you're feeling, or if you're worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at jo@samaritans.org .
  • Childline  (0800 1111) runs a helpline for children and young people in the UK. Calls are free and the number won't show up on your phone bill.
  • PAPYRUS  (0800 068 41 41) is a voluntary organisation supporting teenagers and young adults who are feeling suicidal.
  • Depression Alliance  is a charity for people with depression. It doesn't have a helpline, but offers a wide range of useful resources and links to other relevant information.
  • Students Against Depression  is a website for students who are depressed, have a low mood or are having suicidal thoughts.
  • Bullying UK  is a website for both children and adults affected by bullying.


by Sofia S. 28 Apr, 2017

It’s a fact of life. You can’t unsay what you’ve spoken, you can’t go back in time to change things you now regret and most certainly you cannot re-write or erase History.

Bristol is currently a divided city over a great piece of its History, or better say, a man who is a big part of Bristol’s History.

Allow me to introduce you Mr Edward Colston, a born and bred Bristolian who arrived at this planet in 1636. He was a member of Parliament, a merchant but he also a man who transported around 100,000 people from Africa to the USA and other destinations. If you don’t really see an issue with the word “transported” allow me to clarify. In other words, Edward Colston was a slave trader.

If you ever come to Bristol or if you have ever visited the city you will notice streets named after Colston, buildings, pubs, several schools, a statue in the city centre and you will even find a bun in remembrance of the man who was once named a great benefactor of the city of Bristol.

So why is this relevant?

Well, one of the biggest music venues in Bristol opened doors in 1867 and the building is called Colston Hall. There is now a massive row between the people of Bristol as the Bristol Music Trust that runs Colston Hall has announced that in 2020 it will change its name to something that no one knows what. They justify their decision by stating that the negative connotation of the Colston name goes against the “forward thinking” of the Trust.

Mind you that Colston Hall is not just any venue. In its repertoire has names such as The Beatles, David Bowie, Ella Fitzgerald and Elton John but is also the home for the Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival and hosts nights of stand-up comedy. It's part of Bristol's heritage and people are proud of it.

If you’re wondering why a man like Colston was named a benefactor, before becoming a music venue, back in 1708 the building was also a school which was funded by the one and only… (Guess who! Yep, I think you’ve got it) Mr Edward Colston.

Here, he established the Colston’s Boys School to educate the poor and even after his death in 1721 the school continued at this location until 1857 when it was moved to a different location. There are several schools in Bristol, both for boys and girls, founded by him. He donated around £10,000 for charitable institutions. If £10,000 is a lot of money today, imagine how much it was back then.

So why I am writing about this? Am I just informing the world about what’s happening in Bristol? Not exactly, because you can pick that up from any newspaper.

As you will probably know, politics is one of my big passions and the political correctness that we see nowadays – in my opinion – has reached a level of utter madness where people get offended by another person’s views or opinions.

Basically, the current level of political correctness goes something like this: you are entitled to your opinion because we live in a free society, however, if I don’t agree with your opinion, I can just state I feel offended and that is the end of it. Instead of promoting dialogue and exchanging ideas, the people who get so easily offended are trying to inflict their points of view in others. It’s not very democratic is it?

I even think that most people who even state “I am offended” don’t really know what the word means. They are somehow trapped in this illusion that if they say that, other will have to shut up and act according to what the offended person is saying.

If you feel offended is usually as a result of an insult. Not agreeing with someone’s opinion is not a synonym of offense. Look it up if you don’t believe me. I’m not making this up.

I have my opinion. You are free to disagree with it because that’s your right but I am also free not to take your views on board. What ever happened to the good old “we’ll have to agree to disagree”? My freedom stops where your begins and vice-versa.

As a teenager I used to listen to a lot of trip hop. CD’s from bands like Zero 7, Thievery Corporation, Martina Topley-Bird, Portishead and Massive Attack were always on my backpack along with a couple of extra batteries for my Sony discman.

Funny enough, the last two are actually bands from Bristol (Portishead is a town close to Bristol) and Massive Attack is one of the bands that refused to play at Colston Hall due to its name.

I am not condoning people’s perceptions or opinions in relation to the matter, we all know that what he did for a living, morally, is incorrect. However, I do find it complicated to comprehend that political correctness is actually trying to impose current standards and way of life to something that has happened over 300 years ago and trying to scrap pieces of History.

We as a society have move forward (some would argue that not a lot but that’s a different conversation). There is way to sugar coat this but back then slave trade was acceptable. It was normal (it feels weird to actually write this).

Is it acceptable today? Absolutely not. At least not in the way it was back then but I don’t see anyone actually boycotting countries like China where child labour is very much alive and other Asian countries that enslave women and children for prostitution. And this is happening NOW.

We can’t change History but we can change what is happening TODAY. People like you and me living in inhuman conditions without a decent salary. Children taken away from their families for slaveryàla 21st century mode.

However, and this is what upsets me, most people don’t mind spending their time, focus their energy in boycotting something that happened over three centuries ago but refuse to to do something to change what is in their reach today. People, you cannot change what happened.

These are the same people that if they go a shop to buy an item and the tag reads “Made in England - price £20.00” but right next to it is another one that reads “Made in Taiwan - price £10.00”, I can almost guarantee that 99.9% of the people would go for the cheapest option and won’t even think about the consequences of their purchase or what industry their helping to thrive. Far from sight, far from heart, right?

This doesn’t happen only with clothes. How about coffee, for example? Or jam? Or chocolate? One has a Fairtrade stamp and costs £5. The other one has no stamp and costs £4.

For those of you who don’t know, in short, Faitrade is an organisation that ensures that farmers and workers of Fairtrade products receive a fair wage and have decent working conditions. This may not seem like a huge deal but if you take in consideration that these are developing countries where in some plantations women’s wages were paid to their husbands and were pennies, this is a huge deal. Fairtrade makes the world where you and I live a better world. It’s actually within your reach to change the world to the better.

If you tell me that spending an additional £10 per month on your groceries so you can buy Fairtrade is not affordable but you spend money on a bus fare or petrol to go to a protest over a man who died over 296 years ago and most certainly isn’t turning around in his grave over what you think of him, then I regret to inform you, but you sir/madam, are a hypocrite.

I wish people would acknowledge that we should focus on our brothers and sisters that are alive and breathing the same oxygen as you and me and that desperately need our help. We can make our world a better place for ourselves and our children.

Colston is long gone ladies and gentleman.

Changing the name of a venue won’t erase neither the wrong he’s done (according to current standards), nor it will erase the good he’s done. It’s not a history that you can re-write to suit your needs or wants. This is History. And the latter my friend, that you cannot change.

by Sofia S. 17 Apr, 2017

It’s the little things in life, you know?

The smell of spring in March, the feeling of your toes curling into the sand in May, the warm sun shinning in July, the days when you wake in the morning and you just know it’s going to be a good day. It’s when your heart skips a beat when he leans over for a cheeky kiss in your neck, when you can smell his true self behind a fancy perfume and deep down you know “he loves me”.

 If you are anything like me, this is the part when your mind begins to race, demons take over and you can’t help think: “Does he really love me though?” and “Why does he love me?”.

Surely there has to be something wrong with him if he loves someone like me.

I have been broken so many times that I’m full of invisible scars. They become visible when I allow him to have a glimpse at my insecurities. They become visible by my actions, words or questions and when I sometimes behave irrationally. Yet, he remains. For how much longer I wonder. How much longer can he put up with me? There are far too many girls out there, prettier, skinnier, smarter, and funnier… “Why me?” I wonder.

Feelings of confusion and anxiety take over me but he leans over for another kiss. He tells me “You are looking very pretty today” and you know he means it because the eyes are the window to the soul and his bright blue eyes allow you to take a deep dive into one of the most beautiful souls that God has placed in your way.

You know you have something good going on when you find comfort in silence. There isn’t any awkwardness and you can be still. Be still my soul, for I have found what I have been looking for.

Your mind races but your heart is quiet. Your heart tells you “It’s all good. Breathe” but in your mind there are a thousand thoughts happening at the same time at the speed of light. You try to catch one but just as you think you can focus on one, it immediately seems to fade away and blend in with all the other nine hundred and ninety nine. You are left trapped in this whirlwind that is only happening in your head. You have your eyes closed, it’s all too real for you, you don’t understand what is happening and you want for all of it to go away. You so desperately want for these feelings, thoughts, doubts, anxieties, goals, dreams and memories to just stop because it's just too much.

Just as you feel you are about to scream, suddenly, everything stops. You believe you are able to focus again, you breathe, open one eye slowly to make sure it's safe to do so, open the other one and all is still around you.

You look everywhere to make sure you are no longer in your mental trap and next to you, there he is. The anchor that keeps you grounded. Your very own angel.

He has a little smile on him and you know he is lost in his own world. A world he created for himself while he allows losing himself in the words of the latest book he bought.

All is quiet. The last rays of sunshine invite themselves through the windows, creating beautiful shades around and you feel comfortable in your sofa. You slowly return to consciousness by moving your fingers, by feeling your own breath. You look around and your coffee is still warm. You look to your side and there he is. Completely oblivious to the fact that your whole existence nearly collapsed inside your mind. It doesn’t make it less real for you though.

 The palette of colours created in your living room by the sunset make you look at him like you are seeing him for the first time. You are paying attention. The details of his face, how his skin moves when he smiles and you realise how he is getting old and choosing to grow old with you.

I have been broken so many times and I am full of invisible scars. He tells me it’s ok and kisses it one by one until they heal. “We all have them” he tells me.

I find comfort in his arms when I allow myself to be vulnerable. I give happiness a chance and I am the happiest when I fall asleep in his arms.

 It’s the little things in life that make it grand.

by Sofia S. 02 Apr, 2017

Há seis meses escrevi uma entrada no meu blog sobre o lado triste de quando emigramos que ninguém nos diz.

O sentimento é quase como quando nos tornamos Mães pela primeira vez e não há nada que nos prepare para o parto. Desejam-nos uma hora pequenina mas não fazemos a mais pálida ideia do que nos espera!

Depois do bebé nascer temos ajuda da família nos primeiros tempos para ajudar mas passado um bocado, estamos por nossa conta. Ainda me lembro quando a Diana nasceu ter passado alguns momentos de pânico e ver a minha vida a andar para trás, isto ainda no Hospital.

Não é bem sobre este tema que quero escrever mas está de alguma forma relacionado. A Diana nasceu via cesariana ao final da tarde e eu estive sem me conseguir mexer até de manhã, altura em que Enfª veio até ao quarto e me disse que estava na hora de mexer as pernocas. Ajudou-me a descer da cama, meteu uma fralda em cima da cama juntamente com as toalhitas e disse que voltaria mais tarde para me ensinar a dar o primeiro banho.

Eu fiquei ali, feita parva a olhar para Diana com os seus quase 4Kg e 50,5cm de pessoa e a pensar “espero que ela não demore muito”. Na minha cabeça, eu achava que a Enfª voltaria para me explicar como mudar uma fralda. Se saber mudar uma fralda vem naturalmente para algumas Mães após olhar uns minutos e tentar perceber como a colocar, para mim de certeza que não veio.

O tempo passou e eu comecei a entrar em pânico porque a realidade de que a Enfª não iria voltar começou a bater. Todas as outras Mães que estavam comigo tinham tido partos naturais e parecia que não se passava nada, eu era não só a mais nova que lá estava mas a única que era Mãe pela primeira vez. E a única fisicamente debilitada.

Enquanto me imaginam num hospital com aqueles robes horrorosos, vou ajudar a vossa imaginação mais um bocadinho. Fiquem a saber que eu passei mal durante a cesariana e tiveram que me pôr a oxigénio. Para ajudar à festa tive uma reacção alérgica a um medicamento qualquer cujo efeito foi... Inchar. Mas não era um inchaço qualquer, eu fiquei literalmente (e quando digo literalmente, é LITERALMENTE) tipo boneco da Michelin!

Continuando. A enfermeira nunca mais voltava e eu comecei a olhar muito atentamente para a fralda e para a Diana. Novamente para a fralda e para a Diana. Eu tentei perceber o mecanismo da coisa e eu não me considero uma pessoa estúpida mas juro que aquela fralda, naquele momento parecia a mais avançada tecnologia espacial apenas disponível a alguns indivíduos com um QI “ligeiramente” mais alto que a média.

A confusão e o pânico na minha cabeça deve ter sido notório na minha cara porque uma das Mães veio ter comigo e gentilmente me perguntou se eu queria ajuda. Explicou-me tim-tim por tim-tim tudo o que havia a saber sobre mudar a fralda. Desde limpar com a toalhita, aplicar o creme com a correcta dosagem e como colocar a fralda. É simples mas na altura absorvi a informação e prestei mais atenção ao que ela me dizia do que alguma vez escutei alguém a explicar o que quer que fosse. Fiquei a pensar que ninguém me tinha preparado para aquilo. Mas passado uma semana eu já era pro em mudar a fralda! Era mudar com um olho aberto e um fechado, só com uma mão, atirar a fralda tipo bola de basket para o cesto e sentia-me a maior. 

Na verdade, a única veracidade nisto é a parte do olho aberto e outro fechado, os truques de basketball sóacontece nos filmes em Hollywood. Eu estava cansada demais e só queria um tempinho para tomar banho. Também ninguém me disse que tempo para tomar banho era escasso. Gostava que me tivessem dito coisas. Para eu saber com o que contar.

E daí o propósito desta entrada. Eu falei de um tema sensível com quem muita gente se identificou e quando emigramos não sabemos ao que vamos. É um Mundo novo e é normal que por vezes custe.

Sair da nossa zona de conforto não é de todo fácil. Só quem passa por isso consegue perceber os sentimentos que nos assolam principalmente em casos (como o meu) em que emigrei sozinha. E se fico doente? E se acontece alguma coisa? E se tiver um pneu furado? E se me perder? E se o Mundo acabar amanhã, morro sozinha? E se não conseguir fazer amigos? E se? E se? Muitos “ses”.

Aliás, cheguei mesmo a perder-me uma vez em que estava a chover torrencialmente. Eu tinha saído do trabalho cerca das 3 da manhã e perdi o meu autocarro habitual. Resolvi apanhar outro que sabia que ia mais ou menos para a mesma zona; era Janeiro, estava um frio de rachar (sei que parece uma música do Rui Veloso maséverdade) e o chão estava congelado. Com chuva, estava ultra mega escorregadio... Eu não tinha chapéu de chuva e o meu telemóvel estava sem bateria, logo, não podia ligar o GPS para saber onde estava. Cheguei a casa 2 horas mais tarde, ensopada, gelada e estoirada. Percebi no dia seguinte que estava a 5 minutos da minha paragem de autocarro habitual, ou seja, a 10 minutos de casa.

No meio desses “ses” e destas aventuras que rezei o mais forte que pude para nãoacontecer nunca mais (e não aconteceu) também se sucede algo mágico. Ao passo em que as mensagens de Portugal começam a cessar, novas mensagens começam a chegar por parte das pessoas que lentamente vais conhecendo. No meu caso, conheci pessoas de várias cidades no Reino Unido e de outros Países. Juntos fomos conhecendo a cidade e criámos a nossa “família” Bristoliana.

Claro que não é igual. São pessoas que acabaram de entrar nas nossas vidas, com quem estamos a criar laços, que estamos a conhecer. Parece-me natural que exista algum saudosismo com os da tua criação. Sentes falta da cumplicidade que existe quando conheces alguém hátantos anos.

Falo por mim quando digo que tive mais oportunidades profissionais juntamente com progressão de carreira nos três anos e meio que aqui estou do que alguma vez teria em Portugal se lá tivesse ficado cinquenta anos. Porque não tenho o apelido correcto ou porque os meus pais não são Drs. nem Engenheiros e não me conseguem um tacho. Porque não nasci num berço de ouro nem na localidade certa.

Vim-me embora de Lisboa com uma mala de viagem. A minha vida toda reduziu-se literalmente a uma mala de viagem. E arranquei sozinha. Não foi uma decisão fácil mas não me arrependo.

Lutei grave para estar onde estou e a minha determinação em não me vergar às circunstâncias e adversidades que se colocam à minha frente, é visto aqui como sinal de força e admiração enquanto que em Portugal é visto como uma ameaça. Não existe incentivo para sermos a melhor versão de nós próprios, não existe incentivo para continuarmos a estudar e tirar qualificações profissionais adicionais. Não há incentivos para sonhar.

Quando escrevi aquela entrada, confesso que estava triste. Estava desiludida e magoada. Contudo, muito é bom na minha nova vida e gostava que o bom também ficasse registado.

Adoro o meu trabalho, adoro a Igreja que frequento e o trabalho que fazemos pela comunidade local. Adoro a cultura Britânica, adoro um Sunday roast, scones com creme e geleia de morango e custard donuts. Adoro a arquitectura de Inglaterra, os edíficios da época Victoriana, Edwardiana; Para onde quer que olhe, vejo história e arte. Adoro ir ao pub e beber uma sidra no Verão.

A paisagem é de tirar a respiração. Adoro estar numa cidade quem tem tudo o que preciso mas bastam 10 minutos a conduzir em qualquer direcção estou no meio do campo. A quantidade de parques em Bristol é de doidos. Um parque em cada esquina e as pessoas são simpáticas, educadas e sorriem para ti.

Estou exposta a mais culturas do que alguma vez estaria em Lisboa. Conheci o meu namorado e estou super feliz por isso. Tenho no meu CV empresas para as quais já trabalhei que nem nos meus sonhos mais selvagens alguma vez teria pensado se tivesse ficado em Portugal. Trabalho numa área que adoro, sou feliz no que faço, já tirei qualificações adicionais e em Setembro vou voltar para a Universidade para uma segunda licenciatura.

Estou neste momento no processo de comprar a minha primeira casa e alguns dos meus amigos mais próximos já estão a fazer planos para me vir visitar. E a minha porta está aberta para os receber e mal consigo esperar por ter a minha família reunida em minha casa para um Natal em terras de Sua Majestade.

Emigrar tem os seus desafios mas também ganhamos tanto.

Muitos de vocês comentaram que os meus amigos verdadeiros estariam sempre lá para mim e houve alguém que referiu “E o resto... é o resto.” Muito do que vocês me disseram, teve um grande impacto em mim. Principalmente por perceber que tanta gente passou e passa pelo mesmo. Mesmo quando regressam a Portugal.

Se me sentia triste, passei a sentir-me super acarinhada com a quantidade de mensagens que recebi através do site, através de comentários, mensagens privadas no Facebook... Centenas! Gostaria de deixar aqui registado o meu agradecimento. Li TODAS as vossas mensagens. Todinhas. Não falhei uma. Não consegui responder a todos (na verdade ainda estou no processo de o fazer) mas fizeram o meu coração ficar mais quentinho e sentia falta disso.

Fazemos escolhas, aprendemos com a vida e seguimos em frente. Li há pouco tempo uma frase que dizia: “Não comas a vida com garfo e faca... Lambuza-te!”.

E é isso mesmo que estou a fazer, a lambuzar-me com pessoas pessoas, a respirar novas culturas e conhecer novos sítios. 

Estou a assimilar e viver cada dia como a benção que é e se por vezes a saudade bate e me sinto triste, levanto-me, sacudo a poeira e conto as minhas bençãos porque elas ultrapassam em muito o que perdi. E isso também serve de testemunho porque sei que não sou aúnica. 

Todos vocês são testemunho da perseverança que nos caracteriza enquanto povo e o mais belo exemplo daquilo que a Humanidade tem para oferecer: compaixão pelo próximo. Vocês são um elogio a Portugal.
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